Editorial — This week we got in touch with our State Representatives and asked the following hypothetical question: If the House were preparing to vote on a bill to raise the speed limit on a long flat stretch of Route 16 specifically to accommodate the owners of high-performance sports cars, would you vote for it?
We asked that question because such a bill is coming up for a vote in the House – except that it pertains to boat speed limits instead of cars.
SB27 proposes to increase the boat speed limit from 45 to 55 for a section of Lake Winnipesaukee known as the Broads. As the name implies, the Broads is a long, wide stretch of lake where, if you owned a high-performance speedboat, you might be tempted to “open it up.” Stated simply, the sponsors of SB27 want to make it legal for a small group of high-performance speedboat owners to “open it up.”
There is no other reason for this bill – no public interest noted, no mitigating factors cited. In our mind, that makes it special interest legislation of the most odious sort – and the kind of legislative nonsense that many of those who were elected last November campaigned against.
Moreover, passage of SB27 would make it more difficult to make an accurate long-term assessment of whether the current 45/30 speed limit improves safety, encourages more non-motorized boat use, and is better for business and tourism – the objectives for which the speed limit law was designed.
As an organization we have not taken a general position on boat speed limits. But we have been watching the Winnipesaukee test carefully because we think the results are relevant to all of the state’s large lakes, including ours. That test ought to be allowed to proceed without being compromised by special interest legislation like SB27.
Senator Bradley voted against SB27 in the Senate vote, and we have urged Representatives Merrow, Babson and McConkey to oppose the bill in the House vote. You can make your opinion known by contacting them as well.
Sounds to me like you have taken a position on this bill.
Usually the backers of such legislation have a vested interest and ulterior motive -MONEY. Do we have to wait for a serious and perhaps fatal “accident” to see the folly of such a move?
I’m sorry but the imposition of yet another law does nothing to impact boater safety. I oppose the speed limit law in the first place. There are enough laws in place to ensure boater safety as is, even prior to the ill-conceived speed limit law. The current speed limit law is as much a product of special interest as raising the limit is for the broads.
Weren’t other laws being broken when the fatal accident occurred on winni. Seems like boating while intoxicated is illegal., no?
I can see examples every day on Ossipee in the summer of boating laws being broken. Faster than headway speed in the channel, boats closer than 150ft from each other at speed. If we are not enforcing the laws that are currently on the books, what good does yet another law do.
It does seem that there were many many years of safe boating prior to the accident that spurred the speed limit issue. Why are responsible owners of fast boats being punished for the actions of an irresponsible few? With every activity there is a level of responsibility that cannot be legislated into reality. We had a fatality on a canoe on Ossipee in recent years. Should we ban those too? Enforcement of current laws is the key.
For the record, I don’t own, nor have I ever owned or operated a boat that would be affected by such a law.
I really have no axe the grind concerning the laws but I totally agree with Tom that a speed limit law is not an appropriate response to a drunk driver, operating illegally at night. That same person will pay no attention to any speed limit, and who the heck are we to tell every owner of a high powered boat that he can’t go more than 40 MPH?
The issue is not speed, it’s more about the responsible operation of the boat. My car can go 140 MPH but I’ve never done that. I’ll bet that most of you have cars that can do that too,but you don’t do that. For the record my boat will go 74 MPH but I don’t do that. Not because the law forbids it, but because under certain conditions it would put me, my passengers, and other boaters at risk.
It looks to me, if you contacted a representative and asked the hypothetical question: “If the House were preparing to vote on a bill to raise the speed limit on a long flat stretch of Route 16 specifically to accommodate the owners of high-performance sports cars, would you vote for it?” that in spite of what you say you have taken a clear position on the subject and what really bothers me, which is a seperate subject, is that you have appointed yourself as a spokesperson for the entire alliance.